Liquid Electricity: enabling the growth of renewable power generation

Power generation from wind and solar sources is becoming the lowest cost option on a levelized cost basis, for most locations around the world. The capacity of transmission grids to accommodate natural fluctuations in wind and solar energy, is however still limited. As investment in solar and wind generation continues to grow, transmission system operators are therefore increasingly forced to curtail the supply of power from these intermittent sources.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) the share of renewables in global electricity production will only reach 18% in 2040 at current rates, far below the target that must be met in order to achieve net zero global CO2 emissions by mid-century. To bridge the gap, further investment in renewable generation has to be complemented by investment in technologies on the demand side which can absorb fluctuating power supply and offer long-term energy storage capability.  

Carbon Recycling International (CRI) has developed a new and innovative method to store surplus electricity for unlimited periods of time. CRI’s proprietary Emissions-to-Liquids (ETL) technology uses electricity to produce hydrogen which is then synthesized with CO2 and converted into renewable methanol in a single-step  catalytic reaction.  The CRI method represents a pathway for electricity into liquid form, which is both a common chemical feedstock and fuel. The added benefit is a large reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere as renewable methanol replaces the use of fuels and chemicals from natural gas, coal and oil.

Transforming electricity into renewable methanol and thus a valuable chemical and fuel which can be easily stored, transported and used based on current infrastructure and systems, answers one of the key challenges to the continued growth of power generation from renewable sources. The Renewable Methanol Report, published by the Methanol Institute this week provides further insights into the potential for power to methanol technology and how renewable methanol production can help to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable energy system and chemical industry.

Request the full report here:

CRI selected winner of Wärtsilä SparkUp Challenge for Power-to-X start-ups

Carbon Recycling International has been selected by a jury of energy specialists as the winner of Wärtsilä’s SparkUp Energy Challenge. Close to 70 companies from across the world entered the challenge, and 4 companies were selected for the final round. The jury focused on which technologies would best address key challenges to the integration of 100% renewable sources in the power system. CRI gets the opportunity to collaborate with Wärtsilä on transformative projects as well as a monetary prize of 50.000 euros.

The final competition took place at the new Wärtsilä campus in Helsinki on Thursday, January 18, 2019.  CRI’s entry in the SparkUp Challenge featured the proprietary Emissions-to-Liquids (ETL) platform and CRI’s experience with industrial and commercial scale systems. CRI’s ETL technology is used to synthezise methanol from hydrogen and captured CO2. In power systems with an increase amount of fluctuating energy from wind and solar resources, surplus power and carbon emissions can thus be transformed into a liquid fuel and chemical feedstock. Methanol can be easily stored for short or long periods and transported cheaply over long distances using existing infrastructure. The added benefit of ETL is net reduction of CO2 footprint, which applies across chemical, energy and transport sectors.

“CRI has emphasized bringing to market commercial scale, innovative and cost-effective solutions addressing the entire value chain of Power-to-X, based on flexible production of renewable fuel from CO2,” says Sindri Sindrason, CEO of CRI. “We look forward to collaborating with Wärtsilä, as our visions for the future of power are closely aligned.“

“The real winner of this challenge is actually Wärtsilä. We get the opportunity to collaborate and work with these growth companies. Power-to-X is the missing piece of the puzzle when we are going towards 100% renewable energy systems. The winning company has experience on the whole process of Power-to-X from end to end, and we have a lot to learn from each other,” says Matti Rautkivi, Director Business Development at Wärtsilä Energy Business. 

About the SparkUp Challenge:

Transitioning to a low-carbon energy system

The pace of development in battery technology for EV and plug-in hybrids has not changed the fundamental fact that large segments of transport will remain “difficult to electrify” and will, to meet the required reduction of CO2 emissions, demand an increased supply of sustainably produced liquid fuel. Overcoming this challenge is pivotal for mankind’s progress beyond its dependency on fossil fuels but also represents an important opportunity for producers of sustainable liquid fuels.  

Carbon Recycling International (CRI) has pioneered the development of process technology to recycle CO2 into alcohols and liquid hydrocarbons. CRI operates the world’s first facility of its kind in Iceland which produces renewable methanol, a source of fuels and chemicals, from CO2 and H2 alone. This technology has the potential to replace hundreds of millions of tons of fossil fuel and reduce emissions of CO2 by billions of tons per year.

CRI’s patented Emissions-to-Liquids technology (ETL) only needs water and electricity from renewable sources to operate. CO2 can come from any industrial point source or in the future from ambient air. A CRI ETL plant mimics photosynthesis at industrial scale. Fuel from this process replaces fossil fuel and has the same impact as use of renewable electricity from a battery. ETL chemicals, also offset the use of fossil fuels and lock in CO2 for decades or permanently.

The recent IPCC report highlights that time for decisive action is running out, we need to implement solutions for carbon-free transport and industry. The level of anthropogenic emissions will have to peak within the next decade. The further this peaking and subsequent trajectory towards negative emissions is delayed, the faster the emissions will have to be reduced in the future to avoid catastrophic consequences. Slower progress in the near term would therefore lead to much higher cost within a few decades, with rapid adjustment and costly abatement technologies coupled with increased risk of catastrophic climate impacts.

Fortunately, increased emphasis on sustainability across industries has sparked important global collaborations such as Below 50, which has the sole objective of expanding the use of sustainable fuels. Such platforms are essential as no single entity can stand alone in solving the environmental challenges of today and only together can we truly achieve a transition to a low-carbon energy system.

Carbon Recycling International featured in Forbes article

Carbon Recycling International’s (CRI) activities were covered by journalist Robert Rapier in his article “How A Technology From Iceland Is Fighting Climate Change”, published in Forbes last October.

The article provides a good overview of CRI’s Emissions-to-Liquids (ETL) technology and its potential to contribute to carbon reduction in industry and the energy transition for mobility.

For Rapier’s Forbes article see: